|Sunset view from 2.1 Meter catwalk.|
So what are we doing up here, anyway? We are looking at asteroids, for the most part. We are getting image data (in a handful of colors) of the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter. These are a population of asteroids that orbit the sun at the same distance as Jupiter, gravitationally influenced to stay in two groups, 60 degrees in front and behind Jupiter's orbit. These objects have not been extensively studied, and may hold some keys to the early formation of the solar system as a whole.
|Example of our data. Asteroid highlighted by green circle.|
Our data roughly looks like this sort of thing. An image showing stars and our target asteroid. The telescope has been commanded to compensate for the rotation of the Earth, so the stars look like nice points, even after a long exposure. The asteroid is moving at a different rate, however, so if you add the various images together, you can see that it has moved relative to the background stars. So it looks a bit like a smudge or streak, here. (The 'wavy lines' are not real, they are artifacts of the data and quickie reduction done for this example.)
|Jupiter - Always fun, and amazing|
Image Credit: Shot from catwalk, Andy Rivkin @asrivkin on twitter, example of data from our run, and same for Jupiter.